March 9, 2022

Trends in the Residential Market with Ryan Bluhm, PE, LEED AP

COVID’s Impact and Beyond for the Housing Market
Detached two-story townhome community. Detached two-story townhome community.

Westwood’s Ryan Bluhm, PE, LEED AP, has been with the organization for ten years. Recently, Ryan was promoted to Director, Residential Market, North Region. Ryan manages several projects and leads multiple project managers from Westwood’s Minneapolis-based office. The focus for the team is to assist builders and developers in creating new housing within the metro Minneapolis area. Ryan shares his feedback on the current state of the residential market and his predictions for what the future holds.  

Current State 

“When I joined Westwood ten years ago, we were coming out of a recession,” says Ryan. “There was so much inventory. Not many new lots were being added. Fast forward, there are so many buyers and so few homes, the industry is still trying to play catch up.” 

Early in the pandemic, the industry paused. “We didn’t know how the market was going to react. Like so many others, it forced our team to work remotely. This was something we had never done before, but our team quickly adapted to using tools we already had in place. The circumstances made us better and elevated our cross-office collaboration,” says Ryan.  

As a result of COVID, the industry is facing three key issues.  

  1. Demand is greater than supply.  

  1. Lot inventory is at an all-time low.  

  1. Supply chain issues have resulted in shortages of building materials, therefore, increasing costs.  

Builders are aware of these challenges for buyers. As a result, lot sizes have decreased. Often, as small as the municipality will allow. The size of the lot is no longer viewed with as much significance to potential buyers. Additionally, builders are using spec homes to show buyers options in various price ranges and focusing on building as efficiently as possible.  

The Future  

Ryan also shared commentary on what is next for the residential industry. He expects a continued desire for larger homes with a dedicated home office space. He said the number of villa homes or detached townhomes continues to grow each year. The limited upkeep and maintenance are attractive to empty nesters and working professionals.  

He also looks forward to industry advancements in technologies. The use of drones to assist in layout and obtaining as-built data continues to grow.  

Additional Accolades 

Ryan has a BS in Civil Engineering and an MS in Infrastructure Systems Engineering. He is a licensed professional engineer in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is also a Westwood shareholder. 

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